Michael DeNino has been traveling a bit after the Portland race. When we last talked to him, he was in Florida only days after. He managed to write up a report for us and send it over.
Thanks DeNino! Great job at the race!
Portland, Oregon marked the third stop of the Jetta TDI Cup season. Having never traveled to this city, I was excited to head out west. After having some experience driving a sedan from the previous two races, I was optimistic that my performance would improve in Portland.
Saturday started early with a track walk and drivers meeting prior to our practice session. After getting accustomed to the circuit during practice, I was not happy to learn that I had posted only the 19th fastest time in the session. With qualifying only hours away I knew I had to make some big changes in order to secure a good spot on the grid for the race. The afternoon rolled around and the turbo diesel Jettas set out onto the track for qualifying. The track had substantially less grip in the afternoon; however I was still able to improve my time from practice by a few tenths of a second. This however was not good enough; I had only managed to set the 15th fastest time in qualifying. The only aspect of this which was encouraging was that I was only seven tenths of a second off of the pole position and fastest time. The entire field had gotten much quicker and times were considerably tighter than during the previous two races.
After going back to my hotel and reviewing the data from the qualifying session I was able to see where I needed to improve. I am not sure what it was but I never felt satisfied with either session that day, there was just something missing.
When the race rolled around, it was Sunday afternoon. Having prepared my strategy I was ready to salvage what I could from my poor qualifying performance the day prior. I made a good launch off the start but was unable to take advantage of it because I was boxed in and was unable to pass. After losing several spots on the start, I was able to regain a few positions throughout the race which was full of extremely close overtaking. The race was full of very close side by side racing with clean overtaking; making it the most enjoyable race I have had in a while. When the checkered flag flew I wound up finishing where I had started, in 15th.
Although this weekend didn’t include the results which I had been hoping for it was still a very enjoyable and productive event. It is amazing to see the level of interest from the fans at the event and their enthusiasm for the series. I have put this lackluster performance behind me and will maintain my focus on the success that lies ahead.
Portland is a great city and I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent there. Having not been behind the wheel since the last Jetta TDI Cup race in Mosport back in May, it felt great to be at the track again. I would like to thank Jim Fallgatter, creator of the Aqwertian music system (www.aqwertian.com), for attending this event. It was great to have his enthusiasm and humor never far from reach. Newly renovated Lime Rock Park is the next stop for the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, August 15-16.